Augustus B. Sage Society Trip to Nevada
September 20–23, 2018
The importance of Nevada to American numismatics—and American history— can hardly be overstated. It was here in the hills near Virginia City and Carson City, in 1859, that prospectors uncovered what would soon become known as the Comstock Lode, the richest deposit of silver and gold ever found in the United States. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of the metals were ultimately clawed from Nevada’s mines. That mineral wealth not only financed the Union during the Civil War but fueled the growth of such great cities of the West as San Francisco. It also created a small army of noteworthy men, some like George Hearst, who made his fortune from the mines, and some like Mark Twain, who fortunately for all of us, did not.
Today the mining boom is long over, but a wealth of fascinating sites remain, including a few still-active mines and a lot of abandoned ones with their once cutting-edge technological innovations (steam and hydraulic pumping equipment, compressed-air drills, wire-rope cables), along with 19th-century mansions, stores, saloons, an opera house, and a number of captivating cemeteries.
Importantly for numismatists, Carson City also is the home of what for a couple of decades was a very busy U.S. mint. The Carson City Mint—today, the Nevada State Museum—was opened at the end of 1869, just a half dozen years after Nevada was rushed into statehood, and closed in 1893, by which time the Comstock Lode had pretty much petered out.
This excursion will be an opportunity to visit Virginia City and Carson City, to meet with local ANS members, and to gain an appreciation of an important site in American numismatic history. A broad outline of the excursion is below. We will have a local guide who will take us on a detailed and fun-filled tour of the two cities, with additional activities scheduled with resident numismatic and mining experts.
The price of the trip includes three nights at the hotel (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with check-out on Sunday); two dinners (Friday and Saturday nights); local guide, local transportation, and entrance fees. Please note that this trip is meant to be an informal, inexpensive, and fun excursion. The hotel is not fancy (no stars) but very much part of the ambiance of the place.
Thursday, September 20
Participants arrive, check into Gold Hill Hotel
No planned activities
Frequented by Mark Twain back in the day, the Gold Hill Hotel has seen many transformations since it was first built in 1861. The popular hotel, the oldest hotel in the state of Nevada, became an important part of the thriving town of Gold Hill, then a separate entity just down the eponymous hill from Virginia City. In its early incarnation as the Vesey House, the hotel hosted many Comstock social occasions, such as the cotillion known as Vesey’s Ball. It was also the gathering place for the area’s miners when, in the West’s first attempt at political organization, they assembled on August 6, 1864, to adopt a constitution. Over the following decades, the Gold Hill Hotel thrived and floundered, reflecting the boom-and-bust economy of the mining center it served. By the early 20th century, the Hotel became a private residence, and at times functioned as a rooming house, bar, and brothel. Despite the wild swings in its fortunes, however, this solid structure steadfastly survived. Once again a thriving full-service establishment, the Gold Hill Hotel today is popular both for its themed rooms as well as for its restaurant.
Friday, September 21
Day in Virginia City
Breakfast on your own, then meet with our local guide, who will take us on a tour of Virginia City’s many historic landmarks, including mines and other places of historic interest. There will also be time for you to explore, shop, relax and enjoy the area on your own. Among the highlights are two spots that will let you see how gold was processed from ore to recovery:
The Comstock Gold Mill recounts the city’s mining history and includes an operating 1860s Joshua Hendy two stamp Gold Mill.
The Chollar mine, located deep beneath Virginia City, offers an opportunity to explore the rich geological and cultural history of one of the great mines of America. Over 80 years, from 1860 until the eve of World War II, miners blasted and carted out some $17 million in gold and silver from here.
Saturday, September 22
Day in Carson City
Breakfast on your own, then gather for a drive to Carson City. There we will enjoy a day exploring the Carson City Mint and the Nevada State Museum, as well as the city and area.
Carson City, named after famed frontiersman Kit Carson, is the capital of the state of Nevada. The town began as a stopover for California bound emigrants, but developed quickly after the 1859 silver strike in the mountains to the northeast and the subsequent explosion of activity associated with the Comstock Lode. Carson City has served as Nevada’s capital since statehood in 1864 and for much of its history was a hub for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, which was built between Carson City and Virginia City. The current capitol building was constructed from 1870 to 1871. The Carson City Mint, which struck gold and silver coins, operated between the years 1870 and 1893.
Lunch on your own and some free time included in the day.
Dinner – TBD, then we head back to Virginia City and the Gold Hill Hotel for overnight.
Sunday, September 23 – check-out.
The price of the trip per person (double occupancy) is $650. The single supplement is $100. At this time, a deposit of $150 per person is due.
This fee will allow the ANS to guarantee the hotel accommodations for the group.
Balance is due by September 1, 2018. Deposits are not refundable after September 1, 2018.
The price includes:
Hotel accommodation for three (3) nights
Two (2) dinners
All private guided tours
Local transportation between Carson City and Virigina City
All admission fees
* First full day is Friday, September 21. Please plan to arrive the day before, Thursday, September 20. We have reserved hotel rooms for this night. Departure date is Sunday, September 23, 2018.